Why do we engage in lateral violence?
"By recognising malicious gossip,
back-stabbing and bitching as violence we can begin to understand that this type of emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence, we can only then understand the harm that this type of assault can have on others, and we can then understand how these attacks undermine our own wellbeing."
The simple answer to why we engage in lateral violence is … to feel better about ourselves.
We engage in lateral violence as a way to find power for ourselves in a powerless situation – to make ourselves feel better by putting others down. No-one wants to be at the bottom of the pile, so to rise from the pile we engage in behaviours which takes power from others to make them feel useless and worthless so that we ourselves feel better and more dominant.
Lateral violence happens when individuals who have endured oppression - experience feelings such as anger, shame, and rage, and eventually these feelings manifest in behaviours such as jealousy, resentment, blame, and bitterness and these behaviours are directed toward other people.
Lateral violence can begin when a person experiences trauma, and then uses lateral violence as a way to make themselves feel better about how they are feeling and bring these behaviours into their workplaces to create power for themselves.
Lateral violence is role modelled in our family homes with siblings and parents, at school, at work, in our sporting teams, in our communities and almost any other place where humans form relationships with each other.
Media promote lateral violence as a way to achieve your goals, and is role modelled in every reality TV show produced in the world – Why?… because the aim of each show is to win, and the way to achieve this is to manipulate, dominate, control and diminish your opponent.
In the workplace there are procedures and legislation in place to protect us from harming ourselves or other people. The trauma caused by lateral violence should be identified, and the behaviour named and shamed.